Hyde Park is an idyllic small village in rural Vermont. Despite a historic Main Street that is home to an opera house, library, and the Governor’s House – now an inn and site of many community events – the corridor has lost some of its vibrancy and attraction for local residents and tourists. The local state highway bypasses Hyde Park’s Main Street, making it harder to attract visitors to the downtown.
As part of a grant funded by the U.S. EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program, the Village of Hyde Park was selected to receive technical assistance from PPS. PPS worked with the Village to organize two public workshops in March 2013, which focused on how to build on existing community assets and improve underperforming places in order to create a more sustainable, vibrant, and livable Village and surrounding region. In particular, the second workshop focused on the Main Street area of the Village of Hyde Park, including how to attract more people to the street, increase pedestrian activity, and enhance the vibrancy of the area with low cost, high return public space improvements. During the workshop exercises, local community members brainstormed ideas to attract more people to Hyde Park’s Main Street, after hearing a presentation on best Placemaking practices by PPS staff. Participants were engaged using the following PPS tools: the Power of 10, a Connectivity and Barriers exercise, the Walk-it Audit, and the Place Audit.
A follow up report issued recommendations for capitalizing on the street’s historic buildings and open spaces in front of municipal buildings, as well as improving the pedestrian environment by repairing sidewalks and adding more interesting features like street banners, local signage, and shop awnings. The Village has already started implementing one of the ideas generated at the workshop – building a pocket park in front of one of the municipal buildings on Main Street, which would offer a new public space destination and visual interest for those walking in the area.
Transit is a component, but by no means the extent, of your experience at a station that is a place. Memorable and enjoyable stations and stops that create value for neighborhoods are perfectly attainable. In fact, a transit station or stop can serve much more than a transportation function; it can be a setting for community interaction, a place that fosters a diversity of activities.